Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Major

Dietetics - Coordinated Program

Research Sponsor

Christin Seher

First Reader

Kathy Schupp

Second Reader

Dawn Scott

Abstract

Need/Purpose: Emerging research suggests food insecurity is a problem for college students. Unpublished data from our campus (a large, Midwestern public institution) suggests 36% of students struggle with food insecurity, yet the campus has no pantry or meals/swipe donation program. While little research has been conducted examining food insecurity’s impact on academic success in college, it is well established that food insecurity negatively impacts academic performance in adolescents, mental and social health, dietary choices, and overall health. Program/Participants: In order to learn more and begin to mediate this problem on our campus, a series of nutrition education classes was created to pilot ways of reaching food insecure students. The goal was to provide basic nutrition education on cost-effective, nutrient-dense, affordable foods easily prepared in a collegiate-living environment with limited access to cooking equipment. Topics included: Meals in a Mug, Easy Crockpot Cooking, Incredible Eggs, and Overnight Oats. In addition to nutrition education and budgeting tips delivered through interactive cooking demonstrations by peer educators, participants left with cooking supplies and a small quantity of food. Evaluation: Participants (n = 49) were surveyed upon completion of the classes, which were rated favorably (4.8 on a 5-point Likert scale). Strategies reported for stretching food included: eating less frequently, eating smaller portions, sharing food, going home to eat, buying in bulk and couponing. The need for expanded services for this population and the challenges in identifying and reaching food insecure students without the ability to partner with a campus pantry were significant lessons learned.

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